What does Promotion mean in the Marketing Ps?

The author has seen draft business plans where the marketing P of Promotion has had a single sentence of explanation. It read “We will do a sales promotion after we launch.” The business concerned had confused Promotion with Sales Promotion.

So, what do we marketers mean?

Basically, it is all the forms of communication with your prospective clients and current clients. Promotion uses the buyer personas / ideal customer profiles that have been drawn up to communicate in the type of language and where they want to receive your messages and conversations.

What is in the promotion armoury?

Direct mail / email

Whether you send an envelope in the post or an email by the server then these two are pretty much the same thing. For best practice and legal reasons you should always have the permission of the receiver to send them marketing messages before you do so.

If you are sending an invoice or a delivery then you may think of small flyers or postcards that can be sent in the same envelope or box to trigger a repeat order of the same items or something else in your range.

The communications should always be targeted and preferably personalised. The author is in her 50s but still receives emails with special offers on nappies. This is not targeted, and as the author is childless due to medical reasons, then it can also cause distress. At best the company concerned has wasted time, effort and money on the communications to me; at worst they receive bad word of mouth comments about their organisation and their lack of opt-in permission before sending me the correspondence.


PR is not just press releases but the wider public relations. For most small companies though it is more likely to be issuing relevant press releases, case studies and other articles to the correct titles at the right time.

Larger organisations may run a public relations activity. That could be a stunt for example about 10 years ago there was a company who had a horse drawn funeral procession across one of the bridges in London. There was no body but they were pointing out about the metaphorical death of something in their industry. Interesting that the author remembers the stunt but has forgotten what it was that had “died”. The amount of copy received, social media content and word of mouth was very large though. Much more cost effective than taking out adverts or other activities.

Alternatively, it may be lobbying certain companies and government to have certain policies improved, removed or introduced.

If you are asked to be interviewed by the press then do make sure that you have had some tips on how to handle that interview by a PR professional. Nothing is ever 100% off the record.

These days co-ordinating with podcasters, influencers and bloggers often falls under the PR remit too.


There are many different types of event. Some are discussed in more detail below. Here, these events are ones that do not fit into the categories below. Whether that is organising a 75th anniversary of the business starting, or a channel member conference to update training and network; whether it is delivering a key note address at an independent congress or a product launch activity. All are types of event and of promotion.

An event can be face to face, but it can also happen in the virtual world. There are lots of moving parts to any event from ensuring the internet connection is strong enough to deciding on location, room layouts and the type of catering. Whether the event is to be videoed, for future social media content, or is a hybrid of in person and virtual attendance.


These are a specific type of event. It is a training session or seminar on a specific topic that is held remotely. Pre-pandemic Zoom was not a household word, but since Covid-19 it is very much along with Webex, Teams, GoToMeeting and the others.

Typically there are one or two presenters, questions and feedback are submitted through a chat function. It is difficult to gauge if you are keeping the audience with you so if you can use polls throughout the session. The audience are valuable to spread the message. Often they are recorded and uploaded to a YouTube channel or a website for others to view later.

There are lots of views out there about the ideal webinar length and time of day. In the author’s experience, 20-30 minutes presenting, 15-20 minutes answering questions is the most productive. The software should capture what time your attendees joined and left, as well as a record of all questions asked, as not all will be answerable at the time, but if a response is sent following the webinar that starts the conversation going.


Before Covid-19 the value of exhibitions was variable to a company Footfall was falling, attendees just couldn’t justify the time out of the office. Post-Covid exhibitions have phoenixed – people missed the face to face engagement.

For the attendee, they rarely, if ever, walk the whole of an exhibition, instead they decide ahead of time which stands are the must visits for them. They then sit and plan a route with minimal walking to see those stands to maximise their time and their outcomes.

If you are attending an exhibition then it is important to have excellent pre-event marketing to ensure you are on the “must visit” list.

Telemarketing / telesales

This was seen as a panacea for a lot of companies in the past, but like all good marketing tools it was overused and is now pushed to one side.

If targeted then telemarketing still has a role to play, if you have permission and if you have a clear message that has a real value for the recipient. However, with more working from home it is even more difficult to have the call.

Social media

There are two forms of social media: organic and paid for. This section is regarding organic. So, what do we mean organic? These are your Facebook, X, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, SnapChat and other social accounts. These are where you post and respond to other posts; where you share information and hope that it is liked, shared and referred to by your followers to grow your following.

By using hashtags the posts can be seen by non-followers who follow that hashtag growing the awareness of your brand.

However, posts are fleeting, they soon disappear from the timelines, so you need to post regularly – use a scheduling tool instead of being on social at all times, after all you have your day job to do.

Also do one platform well, rather than 3 or 4 poorly. Choose the platform that is the highest priority for your clientele and prospects.


Advertising doesn’t really need any introduction – we all see them on the internet, in magazines, by the side of the road, on buses, on TV and hear them on the radio.

It is more difficult to quantify the results of an advert and it can be expensive, however, sometimes a well messaged radio advert on the local commercial station can deliver results if you operate in a defined area. If your target area is central London as you are focussed on the financial sector, then adverts on bus sides or inside taxis can deliver results in raising awareness. How often have you sat on a tube / tram / bus reading the adverts inside to avoid looking at other people? If you do it then so will your prospects.

However, advertising has to be part of an integrated marketing campaign.

Personal selling

Is this really part of marketing? Well, yes it is. Ensure that your sales people are on message, have appropriate training on customer service as well as the products and solutions that they are selling.

You may not have dedicated salespeople, but this category belongs to everyone who has contact with clients and prospects. From the person handing out flyers about the re-opening of your theatre to the MD attending the meeting with your largest client: Personal selling is part of your marketing mix.

Point of Sale

These are the pop-up stands next to a cosmetics counter in a department store, the racks with their headers and product explanations in a DIY store, the posters advertising a trade-in offer in a PC retailer, the beer mats your glass is put on in the bar. Many times, you will see the POS items without even realising.

These tend to be provided by the brand that they are promoting to the retailer / hospitality venue. They work by reinforcing the brand name, they may make the difference between brand A and brand B, they work as a trigger, mainly sub-consciously.


These are the give-aways that you offer. From pens and keyrings up to coats and laptop bags. Your logo put on them, maybe your web address or phone number too.

They can be used to raise awareness, for example the cheaper giveaways that are available for all to pick up at an exhibition or the pencils in the hotel room with the notepads. The name is seen each time the product is used. However, ensure the name is durable. The author picked up some pens from her room in Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas (there for business not pleasure!) and the Caesar’s name and logo wore off the pens within a couple of uses. The pens lasted a lot longer, but the branding value was gone.

The more expensive merchandise items can be used as rewards for valued customers. If clothing then the logo should not be intrusive as then it will not be worn, similar with laptop bags or other high-end products. The client knows it came from you, it has a value, so be subtle.

For some companies the merchandise can be a further revenue stream. Think football clubs, F1 teams, they sell their caps, scarves, t-shirts and so on to their fans. Even on a B2B level there are people who collect Cisco merchandise and therefore buy it on eBay and so on.

Sales Promotion

Now we come full circle, to what the client had misunderstood originally. Sales promotion is a part of the promotional P. They should be used sparingly and with specific aims and objectives that can be measured.

Do not fall into the DFS trap of always having a sale.

Think about how the sales promotion will affect on-going sales. Do not use them to stuff the channel as that will affect future months’ sales affecting your margins.
Ensure that your sales promotions do not encourage waste – 3 for 2s have fallen out of use because of the wastage that they potentially caused.

So now we have been through the main tools in the promotional armoury. If you want help in deciding which ones to use and how to combine for the best results then please give us a call.

[Originally published 5/8/21; edited 13/3/24]